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Review: Dice Kingdoms of Valeria Winter Expansion

We are big fans of Dice Kingdoms of Valeria around here and continue to play it regularly.  For our most recent games we’ve chosen to include the Dice Kingdoms of Valeria Winter Expansion.

Read on to find out what this expansion adds to Dice Kingdoms of Valeria and if we think it’s worth picking up.

Disclosure: Thanks to Daily Magic Games for sending us review copies of both the base game and this expansion. No other compensation was provided. Links in this post may be affiliate links. As an Amazon associate we earn from qualifying purchases. 

 

What is the Winter Expansion for Dice Kingdoms of Valeria?

The cover of Dice Kingdoms of Valeria: Winter ExpansionBefore I start getting into the details of the Dice Kingdoms of Valeria Winter Expansion, be sure to check out my review of Dice Kingdoms of Valeria so you can find out why I’m excited to try this expansion and why I think Dice Kingdoms is the best roll and write in my collection. 

Dice Kingdoms of Valeria: Winter Expansion was designed by Levi Mote who’s also the man behind the original game. The expansion’s new sheets feature artwork by The Mico.

The player count, playing time, and recommended age, doesn’t change with this expansion, which has an MSRP of $15 USD.

The Winter Expansion for Dice Kingdoms of Valeria provides you with two new pads of player sheets to use instead of the ones included in Dice Kingdoms of Valeria. These feature a winter theme and snow covered artwork.

Changes between the expansion and the original sheets include; different building rewards, a completely revised road system, and monsters whose dens have to be discovered before they can be attacked. 

For a look at these new sheets and how they are packaged check out my Dice Kingdoms of Valeria Winter Expansion unboxing video on YouTube

There’s really not a lot to say here when it comes to component quality. These sheets are the exact same quality as the original sheets.  You get just as many (50 of each side) and they have the same bleed issue that the originals do.

One thing that might be of note is that these don’t even come in a box. Instead, the two sheets have a paper sleeve around them which is shrink wrapped. These sheets will fit in the original game box, so long as you remove the cardboard insert or if you’ve used up enough of the original sheets to make room for these. 

 

How to use the Winter Expansion for Dice Kingdoms of Valeria

The sheets from the Winter Expansion for Dice Kingdoms of ValeriaUsing Dice Kingdoms of Valeria: Winter Expansion couldn’t be easier. When handing out sheets at the start of the game you hand out one of each of the winter sheets instead of the sheets that come in the base game. 

In general, these sheets work exactly the same as the ones from the base game with only one exception. In this version of Dice Kingdoms of Valeria, the monsters are holed up for the winter and cannot be attacked until you control the domains connected to their lairs. 

The new road map from Dice Kingdoms of Valeria Winter ExpansionAt the start of the game, only the smallest monster group can be attacked. All other monster groups cannot be attacked until you build roads to the domains that are connected to their lairs. Which domain reaches which lair is poorly indicated on the sheets, through dark paths in the forest, and clarified on the included rule sheet. 

The other big change with these sheets is the order you unlock things within the four guilds. These have changed significantly from the original sheets. 

All of the rest of the rules for Dice Kingdoms of Valeria apply as normal and these sheets can also be used for solo play. 

 

Is the Winter Expansion for Dice Kingdoms of Valeria worth picking up?

Circling a domain in a game of Dice Kingdoms of Valeria using the Winter Expansion sheetsAs you can read in our Dice Kingdoms of Valeria review, we really are smitten with the game, so having a second set of sheets that changes things up is a great thing to me. 

The best part about Dice Kingdoms of Valeria: Winter Expansion is that it changes things up a bit but not enough that it affects the overall feeling of the game. It still feels like you are playing Dice Kingdoms of Valeria. Which makes sense as there aren’t really any rule changes here. This expansion just gives you more of what you love. That isn’t to say that it feels exactly the same though. There are two changes here that have quite a bit of impact.

One is obvious, the new rules for attacking monsters. These do have a pretty significant impact on play, which drives not only fiercer competition for the lowest cost monster but also more player interaction as players watch to see which monsters other players can reach and which ones it seems they are working towards.

Playing Dice Kingdoms of Valeria with the Winter ExpansionThis new monster system also seems to reduce the number of red dice used by players in general, which leads to fewer coins earned and through that fewer statues earned. This has caused our games to have less deviation in final scores by the end of the game ,which is something I personally like.

The other significant change is the roads themselves. With the base game, it is very easy to get all of the various die modifiers very early in the game. With the Winter Expansion, it takes a lot more use of green dice to unlock these and I’ve yet to see a game where someone has unlocked all of them. 

What this ends up meaning is that you start off with no randomness mitigation through player powers and only unlock this later in the game and you will probably never unlock all of them.

I actually like the feel of this as it makes it feel like you get more control over your destiny as the game goes on. I also don’t feel it gets too random as you still have three dice to choose from and the potential of adding in a fourth for higher numbers. 

The guilds are significantly different in the Dice Kingdoms of Valeria Winter Expansion.These changes, along with the new order of the guild powers, make the Winter Expansion for Dice Kingdoms of Valeria feel interesting and fresh. I would say they are slightly more complicated and difficult and overall have led to lower total scores. 

Due to this, I don’t suggest combining the two sets of sheets. Though I have been tempted to try mixing and matching them. 

There is one big issue with these new sheets which is important to note. The new artwork is very dark and the paths to the monsters are almost impossible to see.

It’s like the contrast is wrong on the sheets. Along with this, there’s one particular plume of smoke in the forest that looks like a path.

A look at the very dark paths to the monster lairs in the Winter Expansion for Dice Kingdoms of ValeriaFor our first couple of plays, we had to keep checking the book to see what connects to where. I really don’t get why they didn’t make these more clear. White snow covered paths contrasting against the dark woods would have been perfect.

Thankfully it only takes a game or two to internalize where the connections are but I always have to remember to point them out when playing with new players.

Overall everyone I’ve played Dice Kingdoms of Valeria with who has used the Winter Expansion sheets has enjoyed them. A few of us, myself included, even prefer these new sheets. That said, I don’t feel like they are a must have. These new sheets don’t fix the game or make it significantly better by a wide enough margin that you need to rush out and grab them immediately. 

My sheets at the end of a game of Dice Kingdoms of Valeria using the Winter ExpansionMy suggestion would be to wait until you are starting to burn out on the base game, or when you are about to run out of sheets from the base game, and then grab this expansion. It’s just different enough to make things interesting and fresh again and will give you just as much gameplay as the base game. 

If you really love the game and know you will be playing it week after week, picking up a copy of The Winter Expansion will help keep that engagement strong. For those groups, I would suggest picking up extra sheets for the base game and also gettings these expansion sheets and then swapping up which you use each game.  You might even go so far as to mix and match them and see how it turns out, though I still don’t recommend having some players use the original sheets while others use the winter sheets.

 

While I didn’t find the Winter Expansion for Dice Kingdoms of Valeria a must own, I still think fans of the game are going to want to pick it up. I really enjoy the variety it adds to the game, without making it feel like a totally different experience. 

What’s an expansion you own that you like because it just adds a bit of variety to the base game without making it feel like something totally different? Tell us about it in the comments below!

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